Many of you will have got to know The Soldier through these pages, and some have even got to know him in person. I was going to write “through meeting him”, but that wouldn’t be accurate. You don’t meet The Soldier. The Soldier happens to you.
Last October I went to visit The Soldier in Wagga. The fields of New South Wales were phenomenally green, probably the first time they’d showed that colour in twenty years. Purple washes of Paterson’s Curse were dyeing the hills from their tops down. It made going to Wagga much more bearable. Can’t say I really wanted to go to Wagga, but the poor bastard had been stuck there three years. One trip surely had to be fair. Because The Soldier is a soldier, and could pop your head like a grape, no-one really expects him to be witty. Then when he is, he’s so deadpan no-one knows if he knows that he just made a joke. Confusion reigns. Watching this is one of the great joys of life. That week he was in good form.
Triple J announcer: “That was from Cloud Control, from their album, There’s Nothing in the Water We Can’t Fight.”
The Soldier: “Oh yeah? Giant squid lives in the water. It’s got ten arms and shit. What are you gonna do?”
As an irrigators’ spokesman on Lateline complains that Murray-Darling water cuts will destroy them all: “Oy, here’s an idea, fuckwit. Why don’t you stop trying to grow fucking rice in western fucking New South Wales? Does it look like Indonesia to you? No it doesn’t. You know why? Cos it’s fucking not. It’s dry. You don’t go to Tully, and try to grow a fuckin wheatfield.”
“Welcome to Pissweak World. Where every week is pissweak.”
Yes, I know he didn’t make that up. But he says it well.
“Why would you sit there and try to understand the universe? It’s infinitely big, that’s the point. Oh, so it’s gonna end, is it? What’s gonna be there then? Big white room with guys in white suits?”
On Sports Minister Kate Ellis getting criticised for doing a modelling shoot: “You know the case, right? They’ve got all these dicks going ‘Oh, they shouldn’t have had her, they should have had a real woman.’ What, so, she’s thirty-odd, she’s a Federal Minister, she’s healthy and she looks after herself. What a terrible fucking role model, hey? And I’m pretty sure she’s a real woman. Pretty sure if you take her to an island, she doesn’t turn into a donkey.”
On an obese parent with a small baby: “Jesus. Don’t dress it in bright colours. He’ll think it’s a peanut M&M.”
Sitting in Wagga pub with a bunch of army officers when something about gay adoption comes on the TV. One of them makes a derisive remark. The Soldier, thumping the table: “Yeah, gay adoption… Jeez, it’s fuckin’ terrible, that? Imagine that. Imagine a kid… with two Mums. Yeah, they must be so unloved.”
The best part of this is watching the others start to agree, then trail off looking confused.
To understand The Soldier, you really need to understand The Soldier’s Dad. My favourite story of The Soldier’s Dad is this one. The Soldier’s Dad is driving along the single-lane road into Eltham. It goes over the bridge, round the turns, up the hill. He is stuck behind a really old dude in a puttering old car, hobbling along at about 40 ks. The Soldier’s Dad is not a patient man. He’s like The Soldier plus a beer gut and minus the bookshelves. Finally they get to the lights and the road splits into two. The Soldier’s Dad winds down his window as he stops. “Hey,” he yells across to the other car. “Why don’t you hurry up, you doddery old prick?”
“How dare you?” says the old gent. “You know I’ve been driving down this road for over fifty years.”
“Yeah?” says The Soldier’s Dad. “Well if you hurried up a bit you might fucking get there.”